Learners Activity 4: 

Predict their performance in using Korean

  1. Look at each learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity in the interview in two places: where they talk about their language learning history (which we discussed in Learner Activity 3), and where they summarize the plot of a movie. Is your impression of the learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity different when they address these different topics? If it is, why does that happen?

  2. Look at the six tasks the learners will do. Make a prediction about whether they will be able to do each task, and if so, how well.

  3. If these two learners were in your class, would you make any adjustments in the way you would teach them, based on their learning background and individual differences? Explain. How well do you think these learners would perform in your classes?

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  1. The two learners’ fluency, accuracy, and complexity do not seem to be different in these two parts of the interview. Where they summarize the plot of a movie, the differences between the two learners’ proficiency profiles seem to be even more prominent than where they talk about their language learning history. Anna B sounds less fluent in than Sophia in both parts of the interview. She takes longer pauses and does not respond spontaneously in either segment although she uses more complex and longer sentences than Sophia in both. In particular, we continue to see that Anna B seems to monitor her own speech considerably; she self-repairs particles and conjugations. For instance, she says ‘은행을, 은행에서’, ‘가지고 갔어요, 가야 돼요’, ‘말하, 말했어요’, and ‘시작하, 시작했어요’. In contrast, Sophia extends the vowel sounds of conjugation or inserts ‘뭐예요’ (what is that) when she need more time to process.

    These differences in language use could be due to their personality and learning strategies or to their languges learning history, as outlined previously. Sophia having used Korean in Korea, is more strategic in using the target language as a learning tool. When she hears the unknown word ‘줄거리’ (plot), she does not directly ask the meaning of the word, but tries to figure out the meaning of the word by interacting with the interviewer. Also, she does not hesitate to use predicates which she does not seem to conjugate correctly. On the other hand, Anna B is more reserved and seems to try to solve problems by herself. When she hears a new word ‘줄거리’ (plot), she whispers the word to herself and then takes a deep breath. She does not ask for help from the interviewer nor does she send signals that she needs help. Rather, she tries to produce accurate forms by self-repairing particles and conjugations.

    Another possible cause of these differences may be the learners’ relationship with the interviewer. Anna B is a former student of the interviewer and Sophia is not. Due to this relationship, the interview situation could look to Anna B like a speaking test situation, causing her to ask for minimal help from the interviewer and try to use more accurate forms to herself. In contrast, Sophia, who has never had the interviewer as her own teacher, and who is a former English teacher herself, seems to converse with the interviewer more strategically and naturally.

  2. We might expect Sophia to be more fluent in the Narrative, Question, and Retell tasks. Her learning style in the Interview task indicates that she responds spontaneously. However, she may continue to use more short and simple sentences than subordinate clauses. In interaction tasks such as Jigsaw and Comparison, she may use communication strategies effectively when she comes across or needs to use unknown words and expressions.

    We would expect Anna B to continue to use more compound sentences in the Narrative, Question, and Retell tasks, but she might need more processing time than Sophia. Anna B’s vocabulary seems to be limited and she might have trouble completing other tasks. In the Jigsaw and Comparison tasks, it is possible that Anna B might be more assertive with her peer, Sophia, than she was in the interview with her former teacher.

  3. Sophia is a more dominant and active learner, and Anna B is a more passive and cautious learner. Storch’s (2002) study shows that less transfer of knowledge happens in dominant/passive dyads than in collaborative dyads that are more evenly matched. Sophia and Anna B could have more opportunities to use Korean if they were paired up with those with similar backgrounds and motivation. For instance, Anna B would probably say more about Korean pop music, which is her personal interest and motivation for learning Korean, if she were paired with a partner who had the same interest and motivation. For these reasons, if these two learners were in my class, I might try to pair them up with those who have similar backgrounds and motivation first. Then, I might pair these learners with each other later.

    I think Sophia will perform well in speaking tasks in general because she is a spontaneous and confident speaker of Korean. On the other hand, Anna B may be better in writing in terms of using instructed forms and vocabulary because she attends more to accuracy and complexity. Since both of them should know how to speak AND write Korean, they may need more practice in their respective areas of weakness; Sophia may need to work more on writing so she develops more complex sentence structure, and Anna B may need to work more on speaking so she develops more fluency and conversational sentence structures.


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